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Schools make the grades
System, all 13 schools reach AYP status
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The Effingham County School System has earned the distinction of being one of 55 systems out of the 180 in the state to have all its schools meet Adequate Yearly Progress for the No Child Left Behind Act.

“Every school in our system made AYP,” Superintendent Randy Shearouse said. “We’re very proud of that. School level administrators and teachers worked very hard to focus in on students who have needs, and I’m glad to see that a lot of our students met or exceeded the CRCT and the Georgia High School Graduation Test.”

Last year, the system did not meet AYP and one of its schools also did not make AYP. Effingham County High School did not make AYP last year, and was put into needs improvement status. This year there were significant gains in scores at the high school.

Assistant Superintendent Greg Arnsdorff said having all schools meet AYP is a testament to the hard work done by the leadership, teachers and students in all the district’s schools.

“I don’t think that the achievement of making AYP in all the district schools just happens,” he said. “We’re not just lucky that it occurred. It’s because everyone is focused on ensuring that our children receive instruction that is correlated to the curriculum to which they are to be assessed.

“More than ever we are very focused about our instructional practices and trying to gauge students’ progress throughout the school year,” Arnsdorff said. “We’re certainly proud that we’re one of the 55 districts where all of the schools met AYP. It’s certainly a challenge for us because the benchmarks rise. There’s a higher requirement for us next year across the board.”

Arnsdorff said some people may say that the district if focused on teaching to the test.

“I would take issue with that,” Arnsdorff said. “When we were in school if you had a spelling test how did you prepare for the spelling test? I think we owe it to students if they are going to be assessed that we ensure that they have been exposed and have learned the content. AYP is just the end result of what teaching has occurred from the beginning of the school year.”

Shearouse said the student support provided allowed for ECHS to see the gains it had.

“I think the leadership under  (Principal Yancy) Ford of course provided the students with the support they needed,” Shearouse said. “It takes a good principal to run a school, so I think that’s very important.We set up study skills classes for those kids where we pin pointed their needs. That was a huge help.”

He also lauded the evening education program where kids can go back and take courses they were not successful in before.

Arnsdorff said the leadership at ECHS worked together to provide a “support frame work” for students at the school. The graduation rate at ECHS increased from 65 percent to 70.6 percent.

“I think we’ve said before, our hats off to Judith Shuman the instructional supervisor, and Yancy Ford, who led the efforts there to make sure that each child was provided support,” Arnsdorff said. “Again, it’s looking at the individual. We’re lucky that we have teachers and leaders in our school district that our willing to make that additional effort to ensure each child’s success.”

Said Ford: “I’m very proud of our teachers and the hard work they put forth in helping our student be successful. I’m proud of our students for listening and allowing our teachers to help guide them to those successes.”

Ford commended the graduation coach, and he thinks Gov. Sonny Perdue did a great thing by placing graduation coaches in high schools in the state.

“Also, our teachers and parents and community and staff overall for having confidence in our students and expecting nothing less than for them to be a graduate of Effingham County High,” Ford said.